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Posted on April 29, 2013 by Christine Crosby in 

Google Translation, Anyone?

The Issue:

Billy Crystal and Bette Midler did it!  Battled with generational child-rearing clashes in their recent movie, “Parental Guidance”.  While the movie puts a humorous face on the whole issue, viewers can empathize with the grandparents feeling overwhelmed and just plain lost. 
Their daughter (played by Marissa Tomei) corrected them on their language. “No”, she instructed, should be replaced with “Consider the consequences”.  Instead of saying “Don’t”, she advised them to say, “Maybe you should do this”.  Makes me feel as if I need Google translation to understand today’s parenting language!
At times, it was over-the-top; at times, touching.  And in true Hollywood style, everything turned out happily ever after.  Still, the movie did a fairly good job of highlighting how much parenting has changed in language and approach.translate image grandparent parent4
For every parent and grandparent who has ever had a puzzled look, when listening to the other speaking to a child…..
The Grand-to-Parent/Parent-to-Grand Guide! Inspired by the movie, “Parental Guidance”, and our own experiences as Mom and Grand.
Noise, Commotion
Grandparent would say… Today’s ‘Parent Speak’
  • Stop whining!
  • Talking voice, please.
  • That’s way too loud.
  • Inside voice.
  • Settle down!  You’re making too much noise and jumping around too much.
  • We need to find a way to let out all that energy.  Go outside and run around!
Eating, Food
Grandparent would say… Today’s ‘Parent Speak’
  • You can’t start the day with an empty stomach. You can’t leave the house without breakfast.
  • Your body needs some energy for today! This is the only chance until lunchtime. (If they don’t eat and get hungry, reminds the child of it next time).
  • Don’t eat now.  You’ll spoil your dinner.
  • We’re having dinner soon.  You may have something healthy, if you can’t wait.
  • Clean your plate. Don’t waste food.
  • Serves healthy food first.  Then, let’s child decide how much to eat, based on how hungry he/she is.
  • You can’t leave the table until you’ve finished all your dinner.
  • Did you eat all you want? This is the last food until breakfast. Then unless the pediatrician has advised otherwise, let’s the child decide!
  • How about some juice?
  • Here’s some water.
  • Ok, one more sweet won’t hurt.
  • You’ve already had your sweet for today.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full.


Daily Activities
Grandparent would say… Today’s ‘Parent Speak’
  • You need a nap.
  • Time for a rest.  (You don’t have to sleep.)
  • Because I said so!
  • Explains patiently. (But thinks, “Because I said so!”)
  • Clean up this mess you made with your toys.
  • Put your toys away.
  • I’m not going to ask you again!
  • That’s 1…(1, 2, 3 Magic)
  • It’s cold in here.  Put on a sweatshirt.
  • [Silence.]  If he gets cold, he’ll ask for a sweatshirt.
  • I said close the door. Not slam it!
  • Do over. Go close it softly, please.
  • It’s too early to get up. Go back to bed.
  • Come get me, when the clock says…
  • Before we leave, do you have to go to the bathroom?
  • (No need to say anything.  Both grandparents and the family friend have already asked him.)
  • Did you hear what I said?
  • Walks up to child, eye level, “Did you hear me?”
  • I can’t believe you just did that, after I told you not to.
  • That’s 1….(1, 2, 3 Magic)


Grandparent would say… Today’s ‘Parent Speak’
  • Be careful!
  • Walk. Look both ways for cars.
  • Wait for me!
  • STOP!
  • Don’t run!
  • Walk. Walking feet.


Being Nice, Getting Along
Grandparent would say… Today’s ‘Parent Speak’
  • Play nicely with your sister.
  • Please share.  Use your words.
  • Let him have some of your toys, too.
  • Can you pick out some of your toys to share with him?
  • Now say you’re sorry and mean it!
  • That hurt your friend.  What should you do?
  • Why did you just throw that?  Go to your room!
  • Asking a young child why they did something is like trying to teach a pig to sing. ‘It wastes your time and annoys the pig’. (Not that I am comparing children to pigs, but you get the point!) States the parental rule (“You know you cannot throw things.”) and has consequence.

We hope this guide is helpful (or at least humorous) and makes your journey a little easier! 


Here’s the website for “1, 2, 3 Magic”, a parenting method that Blair successfully uses with her 4 1/2 year old son. And having watched the video, Remy also uses it, when she’s with her grandson. It works!
Follow us on Facebook here and join the conversation with other grandparents and parents! Enter to win our FREE giveaways. Just ‘like’ our SheSaidSheSaid: Bridging the Parenting Generation Gap page and click on the “Giveaways’ tab.  It’s easy and there are great prizes to win!


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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